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Effects of Experiencing the Midnight Sun on People's Mood and Behavior

There are instances that a sun is rising at midnight and it is mostly occurred in the Antarctic and Arctic regions. / Photo by: Anibal Trejo via Shutterstock

 

Within 24 hours a day, the sun is often observed to rise and to set. There is normally a division between daylight and nighttime, where people are able to experience darkness. The darkness of night is often a signal that people have to sleep.

However, in some countries, the sun never sets no matter time of the day it is. This leads to extended hours of daylight known as the midnight sun. This occurrence affects some of the countries in the Northern hemisphere and is shown to have adverse effects on people.

Researchers have found that there was an increase of suicide rates in Greenland during periods of extended daylight. It was revealed that 82% of suicides were committed in the daylight months. It was discovered to be more prevalent in the males of Greenland who employed violent methods which included hanging, jumping, and shooting.

There are also studies that show that people of Alaska had a higher rate of sleep problems due to their irregular daylight exposure. When they reach the summer months, they experience 16 hours or more of daylight.
 

What is the Midnight Sun?

According to timeanddate.com, the midnight sun happens “when at least a part of the Sun’s disk is visible above the horizon 24 hours a day.” It is also known by its scientific name, polar day.

Sweden.org says that it usually happens in the summer solstice. In the northern hemisphere, this occurs around June 21. It is explained that the sun rises and sets once yearly on both the south and north poles. In the six months that sun is over the horizon, it spins around the observer for days. Eventually, it approaches its highest circuit in the summer solstice. Within the distance of 90 km, the midnight sun can be observed outside the polar circle.

 

Which Countries are Affected by This?

One of the countries that experience midnight sun is Sweden. / Photo by: Oleksiy Mark via Shutterstock

 

Norway is famous for being the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. Other countries that experience this include Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, USA (Alaska) and Greenland. Some areas of Iceland and Scandinavia are also found to be affected by it.
 

Negative Effects of the Midnight Sun

 

 

Fit Day states that the midnight sun causes a disturbance in a person’s mood, sleep cycles and energy to the confusion of the brain. The more detailed effects of the extended exposure of daylight are:

1. Sleep problems

One of the problems people encounter when there is a midnight sun are sleeping problems. / Photo by: Photographee.eu via Shutterstock

 

The uneven distribution of night and day, particularly prolonged daylight, can affect a person’s sleep-wake schedule. During periods of darkness in the night, the brain expects the person to sleep and during the day, it expects them to be awake.

When the sun is still up during the night, the brain has hard time deciding whether it should stay awake or sleep already. Since there is too much light, the tendency may be to remain awake. This results into being unable to sleep or not getting enough of it. When an individual does not have a good night’s sleep, this can cause them to experience fatigue.

2. Hyperactivity, hypomania and impulsiveness

Science Daily states that an increased exposure of  daylight also increases the production of serotonin in the brain. Sleep deprivation combined with having excess serotonin can cause a person to engage in impulsive activities. This is said to be one of the reasons why the suicide rates are heightened in Greenland in the summer months.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder are prone to having more manic episodes if they stay in a location affected by the midnight sun, says Uphere Magazine.

3. Other health issues

A disturbance in the circadian rhythm, the body’s internal processes that react to light and dark, can cause mental fog, headaches and digestive problems.

4. Bad mood

Since the midnight sun can cause a person to lose sleep, this may also cause them to become more irritable.

5. Burning of the roof of the mouth

There was also a case reported wherein a the roof of person’s mouth could be be burnt due to the midnight sun. When a person breathes too hard and has their mouth open, the sun may reflect off the snow and enter the roofs of their mouth.

 

How to Deal With The Effects of the Midnight Sun

Based on the findings of USA’s Department of Defense, a person who lives in an area affected by the midnight sun can cope by sticking to a daily routine, using dark drapes in their room, practicing relaxation exercises, maintaining a healthy diet and putting a sleep mask on before going to bed.

Using black-out blinds, black curtains and aluminum may also keep the sunlight from getting inside their homes. Switching indoor lights on in the morning and turning them off at night may somehow help in normalizing their sleep patterns.

If the physical and mental effects of the midnight sun starts to interfere with an individual’s personal life or work, they are advised to seek a physician’s assistance.

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